One of the most famous monuments of Turkish and Islamic art, The Blue Mosque ( Sultanahmet Camii) is visited almost by everyone who comes to Istanbul.
Built between 1609-1616, the mosque used to be part of a large complex, including a covered bazaar, Turkish baths, public kitchens, a hospital, schools, a caravanserai, and the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet. The architect, Mehmet Aga, was a student of Sinan, the greatest architect of classical Turkish architecture.
The interior has a centralized plan; the main and side domes rise on four large columns that support broad and pointed arches. The walls of the galleries surrounding the three sides of the interior chamber are decorated by over 20,000 exquisite Iznik tiles. The areas above the tiles and the inside of the domes are decorated with paintwork. The blue of the paintwork, which gives the mosque its name, was not the color of the decorations originally; they were painted blue during later restorations. During the last renovation, completed in 1990, the darker blue color of the interior decorations painted as its original light colors.
The floor is covered by carpets, as in all mosques. Next to the mihrab (niche aligned towards Mecca) opposite the main entrance, there is a marble minber (pulpit) with exquisite marble work. On the other side is the sultan’s loge (box) in the form of a balcony. The 260 windows flood with light the interior space, which is covered by a dome 23.5 meters in diameter and 43 meters high.
The minarets of the mosque are classical examples of Turkish architecture. The balconies are reached by spiral stairs. It is from these balconies that five times a day the believers are called to prayer – in our day using loudspeakers.
The Blue Mosque is open every day, but it is going to be closed on prayer times (5 times a day) and also on Friday afternoons.
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